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Cnemaspis yelagiriensis AGARWAL, THACKERAY, PAL & KHANDEKAR, 2020

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Yelagiri dwarf gecko 
SynonymCnemaspis yelagiriensis AGARWAL, THACKERAY, PAL & KHANDEKAR 2020: 20 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: Yelagiri Hills (12.600°N, 78.633°E; ca. 920 m asl.), Vellore District, Tamil Nadu, India  
TypesHolotype: NCBS-BH692 (AK 831), SVL 41 mm, adult male, collected by Akshay Khandekar, Ishan Agarwal, Swapnil Pawar and Tejas Thackeray on 03 June 2019.
Paratypes: NCBS-BH693 (AK 828) SVL 40 mm, NCBS-BH694 (AK 829) SVL 39.2 mm, NCBS-BH695 (AK 832) SVL 40 mm, adult males; NCBS-BH696 (AK 833) SVL 37.6 mm, adult female; NCBS-BH697 (AK 830) SVL 25.7 mm juvenile female, same data as holotype. NCBS-BH698 (AK 673), SVL 43.2 mm, adult female, same locality as holotype except collected by Akshay Khandekar, Ishan Agarwal and Achyuthan Srikanthan on 15 April 2019.
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium-sized Cnemaspis, snout–vent length to 43 mm. Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous, weakly keeled, granular scales intermixed with large, strongly keeled, conical tubercles; eight longitudinal rows of dorsal tubercles, 14–16 tubercles in paravertebral rows; spinelike scales absent on flank. Ventral scales on belly smooth, imbricate, 23 or 24 scales across the belly, 125–141 longitudinal scales between mental to anterior border of cloaca. Subdigital scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; lamellae under digit IV of pes 22–27. Males with three or four femoral pores on each thigh, separated on either side by 9–11 poreless scales from two continuous precloacal pores. Median row of subcaudals smooth, enlarged. Single central black ocellus within an indistinct cross-bar on nape, distal half of tail orange in juveniles, gular region with pair of dark streaks.

Comparison with members of the C. bangara clade: C. yelagiriensis sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from its closest relatives, C. bangara sp. nov. and C. graniticola sp. nov. by having three or four femoral pores separated on either side by 9–11 poreless scales from two continuous precloacal pores (versus two femoral pores separated on either side by 11 poreless scales from two continuous precloacal pores in C. bangara sp. nov.; three femoral pores separated on either side by eight or nine poreless scales from four precloacal pores in C. graniticola sp. nov.); 14–16 tubercles in paravertebral rows (versus 7–9 tubercles in paravertebral rows in C. bangara sp. nov.); 23 or 24 scales across the belly (versus 20 scales across the belly in C. bangara sp. nov.); 125–141 longitudinal ventral scales (versus 116–120longitudinal ventral scales in C. bangara sp. nov., 115–121 longitudinal ventral scales in C. graniticola sp. nov.). Additionally, C. yelagiriensis sp. nov. is 17.1% divergent from C. bangara sp. nov., and 17.9% divergent from C. graniticola sp. nov. in ND2 sequence data (Table 2).

Coloration in life: Dorsal ground color of head, body, limbs and tail pale brown; head and dorsum with darker speckling throughout, brille dull yellow (Figure 14a). Dark brown preorbital streak runs from nostril to orbit; upper labials dull white with dark blotches. Two dark brown postorbital streaks, upper one merging with its counterpart from the other orbit to form an indistinct WW-shaped zig-zag band on occiput; lower one indistinctly continuing until axilla. A single large central black ocellus within an indistinct cross-bar at anterior of forelimb insertion; four dark indistinct bands from axilla to tail base alternating with lighter, elongate middorsal blotches. Dorsum of forelimbs and hindlimbs with dark blotches and bands, digits with alternating dark and light bands; dorsum of tail with 11 alternating brown and light gray bands, tail tip gray. Ventral surfaces dull white, with few scattered dark brown fine speckles, gular region with a pair of dark streaks, upper running along lower labials and the second up to postmentals, underside of tail marbled with gray. Pupil black, iris golden.
CommentHabitat: The species was first spotted under a concrete culvert and numerous individuals were later encountered during the day (~0930–1130 hr) on granite boulders along the side of a road lined with large avenue trees (Figure 11c). We did not encounter the species in more exposed granite boulders at a similar elevation.

Sympatry: Calodactylodes aureus, Cnemaspis cf. mysoriensis and Hemidactylus cf. graniticolus. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a toponym for Yelagiri hills in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu, the type and only known locality for this species. 
  • Agarwal I, Thackeray T, Pal S, Khandekar A. 2020. Granite boulders act as deep-time climate refugia: A Miocene divergent clade of rupicolous Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Mysore Plateau, India, with descriptions of three new species. J Zool Syst Evol Res. 00:1–28 - get paper here
  • AGARWAL, ISHAN; TEJAS THACKERAY, AKSHAY KHANDEKAR 2021. A new medium-sized rupicolous Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) of the C. bangara clade from granite boulder habitats in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, India. Zootaxa 4969: 351–366 - get paper here
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